With two routes and two planes, the fledgling airline carried 82,000 passengers in one year.

Ryanair passenger numbers continued to increase, but the airline generally ran at a loss and, by 1991, was in need of restructuring including the closure of Ryanair Europe/London European.

Ryanair launched a new base of operation in Charleroi Airport in 2001.

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Increasingly the online booking contributed to the aim of cutting flight prices by selling directly to passengers and excluding the costs imposed by travel agents.

Within a year, the website was handling three-quarters of all bookings.

O´Leary was charged with the task of making the airline profitable.

O'Leary quickly decided that the key to profitability was low fares, quick turn-around times for aircraft, "no frills" and no business class, as well as operating a single model of aircraft.

Similarly net profits have increased from €48 million to €339 million over the same period.

In 1986, the company added a second route – flying Dublin–Luton in direct competition with the Aer Lingus / British Airways duopoly for the first time.

After a successful flotation on the Dublin Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock exchanges, the airline launched services to Stockholm, Sandefjord Airport, Torp (110 km south of Oslo), Beauvais–Tillé and Charleroi near Brussels.

The airline launched its website in 2000, with online booking initially said to be a small and unimportant part of the software supporting the site.

Flights were scheduled into regional airports, which offered lower landing and handling charges than larger established international airports.

O'Leary as Chief Executive took part in a publicity stunt, where he helped out with baggage handling on Ryanair flights at Dublin Airport.

The airline has been characterised by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model.